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Garden Center Ministry Annual Report January 2016

By Christine Bowen

Where Dignity and Independence Grows

Since 1956, Garden Center Services has provided a safe place for persons with developmental disabilities to learn independent living skills and develop their capacity in vocational areas. The main building is located at 8300 South Austin Avenue, Burbank, IL where individuals attend the Day Program and Work Shop and another building at 104th and Kedzie in Chicago that serves as a satellite Work Shop. The Day Program encourages development of basic skills such as, speech, coordination, social interaction and for higher functioning individuals, math and reading. The Work Shop gives the client an opportunity to have a “job,” just like everyone else. The clients earn a paycheck and more importantly, they are proud of their accomplishments. Garden Center provides residential living in ten (10) Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA). The individuals residing at the CILA homes need assistance with daily activities. Many of these individuals have found employment outside of the Garden Center Work Shops with the aid of Garden Center personnel.

Some residents live in the 15 bedroom Immediate Care Facility (ICF) located at 8345 South Austin Avenue, Burbank, IL. These individuals have their own room and require 24 hour-a-day assistance for all their basic needs (bathing, oral hygiene, grooming, dressing, etc.). Clients help with meal preparation, meal clean-up, laundry, etc. The ICF is where Father Andrew started visiting in 2000 (16 years ago.) We meet mostly on the first Monday of each month. The clients look forward to each visit. Thankfully, Father Paul is continuing this ministry and the clients are thrilled to see both of them. Recently, a long-time client at the ICF (Bob Hall) passed away and Garden Center’s Executive Director asked Father Andrew to do a funeral service. Father conducted a short service and gave a beautiful eulogy.

We start the evening with a short story from the Children’s Bible or the Book of Saints. The stories are simple enough for the clients to understand and they have questions after each story. After the story, we participate in a short prayer service. The clients sing along and participate enthusiastically. Each month they have some family member or friend that needs our prayers. The homily is on the client’s level and often invokes spirited interaction. We have blessed fruit, celebrated Valentine’s Day, St. Pat’s Day, Pascha, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and of course, Christmas. Father also brings something to share from his trips. After the prayer service, we join the clients in snack time and interact on a social level.

St. Luke’s members, Mary Kincaid, Caye Caswick and Stea Zekios have joined the clients on a regular basis over the past year and John Adamovich has joined us a few times. Emma Hansen has joined us on more than one occasion. I thank them all for their participation – the clients have grown to care for them and our St. Luke family. I believe that our monthly visits are very important to the clients because attending the service is always their choice and each month, all the clients choose to attend the service. I believe it is also very important to the members of St. Luke’s who attend on a regular basis because it is always their choice to attend and they always do. Please join us for one of the monthly visits and enrich your life as well as those at Garden Center Services.